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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 9.16.10




DEMONIZING ISRAEL

Mariah Leung complains in her recent letter (“Denying the Nakba,” 9/9) that members of the Jewish community took remedial action at the Eugene Celebration against her offensive tirade against Israel — the nation state of the Jewish people. Our aim was to provide the community with accurate information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to counter Leung’s obsession with demonizing Israel. The literature we distributed endorsed a two-state solution to the conflict where both sides live side by side in peace and security.

That Leung resorts to calling us “the local Israeli Defense Network” and falsely accuses the rabbis at Temple Beth Israel of imposing a litmus test for davening there — unwavering support for Israel — tells us all we need to know about Leung’s motives.

Leung and her group advocate a “one-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is impractical, unworkable and a non-starter. Radical Islamists like Hamas, who call for the elimination of Israel and the murder of Jews worldwide, will not coexist in a binational state with secular and religious Jews.

The Jewish community would have no quarrel with Leung if she was just proposing a bad idea. It is her willingness to twist historical facts, distribute misleading material, and present a black-and-white story line about the conflict that concerns many in the local Jewish community.

There is not enough room in a short letter to expose every falsehood about Israel that Leung promoted at her Eugene Celebration booth. While Leung had the right to express her view that the Jewish people have no right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland, it seemed out of place along side the worthy educational, political, environmental, service and faith groups that lined the Community Causeway at the Eugene Celebration.

Craig Weinerman, Jewish Community Relations Council of Lane County, Eugene



DOUBLE DESTRCTION

Thank you for your recent cover story (“Rage Against the Machines,” 9/2). The Kearl Module Transport Project is stupid, short sighted, and incredibly destructive to both our people and our place. Tar sands oil is some of the dirtiest, using huge amounts of energy to make small amounts of fuel. Most Northwesterners will want no part of this, as this project will nullify in just a few months all of the substantial energy-conserving and carbon-reducing programs we have established in the last decade.

I want to thank Rep. DeFazio, the only member of Congress in Washington or Oregon that I am aware of who is raising issue with this project. But I also want to urge DeFazio go further and lead a Northwest Congressional Delegation campaign to shut down this newly emerging mammoth industrial transportation corridor.

While the Pacific Northwest takes all the risks, Exxon and Canada get all the profits. Maybe we can’t stop this tar sands project itself, but the Northwest need not be a party to it. Let’s cut off this Tar Sands tentacle now. Let Exxon find their own way to deliver their behemoth, earth-munching machines to the tar sands in Canada. I see no advantage to helping them. Let’s establish the Northwest as a tar sands oil-free zone — and let’s start with their risky, costly transport corridor.

Alycia Canavan, Eugene



SAND BOX DISASTER

So let me get this straight: according to your Sept. 2 cover story, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and others want to turn the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and Idaho’s scenic Highway 12 (nationally designated as part of the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway), into a monster truck corridor to ship mega-equipment so they can play disaster in the tar sands box of northern Alberta. 

This is doubly bad for the Pacific Northwest, based on both the project itself and the politics surrounding it. Folks familiar with Idaho will tell you that it will be a cold day before their elected representatives gain political will enough to stop this project from happening. It will take leadership from representatives in Oregon and throughout the West. So I’m glad to hear that Congressman DeFazio is on the case and I hope he leads the call against this terrible project. 

Oregon’s northeast corner houses some of the best salmon and steelhead habitat in the Pacific Northwest. The long-term health of this ecosystem is already in jeopardy; converting a scenic highway running through the middle of it into an industrial corridor only adds insult to injury. Idaho may seem far away, and the tar sands in northern Alberta even farther, but Oregonians, and Oregon’s elected representatives, have a real stake in this issue. 

Karl Mueller, president, McKenzie-Upper Willamette Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Springfield



INSANE PLAN

I read with great interest your story concerning the movement of monster machinery up the Columbia River and across U.S. 12 from Lewiston, Idaho. U.S. 12 is my all time favorite scenic highways. I was just there the first week of August and it was beautiful! I cannot imagine such machinery going up and over Lolo Pass! Trucks of the size mentioned in the article will destroy U.S. 12 and there is the real threat of endangering the Lochsa River. 

The U.S. must move away from oil. Destroying the borreal forests of Canada to feed our addiction is simply insane. The wastelands created by these open pit mines will scar the landscape for decades.

One error I noticed in your article concerns Environmental Assessments (EA). You stated that Montana DOT completed an EA and concluded that there would be significant impacts. This is known as Findings of Significant Impacts FOSI, which should trigger a more intensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). You then used the acronym FONSI, which is Findings of NO Significant Impact, meaning an EIS is not necessary.

I hope that this was simply a typo-graphical error?

Thanks for the article.

Michael Ray, Senior Transportation Planner, Portland

EDITOR’S NOTE: The text should have read Finding of No Significant Impact,



FACING THE TRUTH

We owe gratitude to Eugene Weekly for being honest in what it reports about Iraq, something we cannot expect from the daily news media. A case in point came on two successive nights of the Charlie Rose Show on Public TV, where the host is the finest interviewer I’ve seen. Yet Charlie is not immune to carelessness and dishonesty of reporters on daily newspapers and broadcasts, who parrot propaganda of our presidents of both parties.

Those two programs featured former British prime minister, Tony Blair, and New York Times authority on Iraq, Robert Burns. Blair gave shallow excuses for his decision to go along with George Bush in the illegal, preemptive attack on Iraq. Burns then gave what we are accustomed to hearing from major media types, a salute to our aggression supposedly bringing democracy to Iraq. 

Rose made possible continued duplicity of both men by asking: “What went wrong for us in Iraq? What mistakes did we make?” There was only one mistake. The invasion itself. To suggest there was justification for our attacking Iraq, and to ask what went wrong afterward serves only to continue the brainwashing of an American public that resists facing the truth.

George Beres

Eugene



NEEDLE EXCHANGE

I found needles in Whiteaker this past weekend and was shocked. Not because finding them violated my sensibilities or understanding of my neighborhood and community. It was because I learned they are being given out at Scobert Park as part of the exchange program run by the HIV Alliance of Lane County. I just got off the phone with Tony from the Alliance who works in Prevention. I’ve heard of exchange programs before and knew of their importance, but the reality of it came home to me when a few kids at a drum circle came up with two of them dropped amid some hay bales that we sit on outside Reality Kitchen, a neighborhood-based center for arts, education, food and networking.

Tony patiently heard my concerns and said that more than 420,000 needles had been recovered from Lane County and nearly that many clean needles were exchanged to keep the incidence of AIDS and other diseases to a low. I wondered if it made sense to give back needles to folks clearly having difficulties making good choices, rather than receiving the used needles to incinerate properly while giving them a safe way to medicate and work through their dependency, thus removing needles from the streets and keeping us all safe at the same time ? 

Clearly, I admit, I have much more to learn about this. I promised Tony l would see what the HIV Alliance website has posted to help me understand this program better, and then do more asking of questions and listening to others before I form my opinion and decide how to help keep my all my neighbors safe, because that’s what neighbors do, right ?

Jim Evangelista, Reality Kitchen, Eugene



HOLD THE DRUGS

Thanks for publishing the Viewpoint by Chuck Areford (8/12) on Anatomy of an Epidemic, the new book by Robert Whitaker on the long-term impact of our society’s reliance on psychiatric drugs to improve mental health.

I am a mental health professional who learned early that medications are not magic bullets. I discovered that many of the same people often cycled in and out the hospital door, just as Whitaker notes in his book. And many of them came back not because they stopped taking their drugs, but because the drugs weren’t working any more.

But as Whitaker shows us undeniably in his book, the large majority of mentally ill people in the pre-drug age recovered from their “disorder” without any medical interventions! Most were eventually able to hold down jobs and raise families, just as most of the rest of the “normal” population did, without using medication.

What we are now being told is that people need to be on drugs for the rest of their lives. And yet those who follow this advice, as a group, are far more disabled than they were in the past. These drugs may get people out of the hospital more quickly, but they also appear to increase the odds that the same people will be back again and again.

Whitaker is not saying for everyone to stop taking their psych meds. He’s saying that we need to present a range of alternatives that will support long-term recovery, not just temporary symptom reduction. It may be an inconvenient story, but it needs to be told.

Anyone diagnosed mentally ill or who is working with someone who is should read this book!

Steve McCrea, MS, Portland



WARM WATER TREASURE

Eugene’s Tamarack Pool is a treasure. Its 91-degree salt water, excellent equipment and instruction, and positive staff support our community’s physical health and can-do attitude.

I’ve joined Tamarack Pool’s Water Aerobics classes several times a week since 1997. Sometimes I’ve had a doctor’s prescription (due to childhood polio and two hip replacements). Mostly I go because it makes me feel so good. 

My Tamarack class includes women and men, seniors and younger people, folks with serious and visible “land limitations” and others with less obvious pain or stiffness. We admire each other’s persistence and support each other as friends. Each of us knows that, no matter how hard it is to get up and come to the pool, we will feel truly and deeply better when we get into its warm welcoming water and do our work.

Besides my own health, strength, and attitude, I value Tamarack Pool’s remarkable diversity and inclusive spirit. Every day I share the pool with contented babies in the arms of their moms and dads, kids taking swimming lessons, brave children and adults with serious disabilities getting one-to-one coaching from strong devoted care-givers, post-surgical and post-injury clients of physicians and physical therapists, determined 90-year-olds working out their arthritis, and the cheerful and skillful staff of lifeguards and instructors.

Tamarack Pool is an almost-secret gem. It needs our community’s increased and renewed support now to survive.

I support Tamarack Pool; please join me!

Darnell Rudd Mandelblatt, Eugene



TOO EXTREME

Recently I went to a town hall meeting for the opponent of Congressman Peter DeFazio. Art Robinson, a far-right Tea Partier with no political experience of any kind, seemed at first to be very reasonable, touting college degrees and a career in science, like myself, and forthright opinions. By the end of the meeting, though, I realized the extreme nature of his platform. His supposed scientific sensibilities are a good example. A strong supporter of nuclear energy, he dismissed any thought that it was a dangerous technology, blowing off the warning that was Three Mile Island, and saying that the catastrophe of Chernobyl was overstated. He even advocates in his newsletter, in an article entitled “Ocean Dumping? Yes!”, that radioactive waste is best disposed of by dumping it in our oceans! 

He dismisses the thousands of studies published each year examining global warming and ozone depletion, and its human-made sources, claiming the peer-reviewed data is a conspiracy of “enviros” and “socialists.” He states in another article that oil spills, like the recent one in the Gulf that has devastated coastal economies and wildlife, are “a boon to marine life, inflicting damage mainly on the oil and shipping companies,” then cites a study by the petroleum industry. 

He boasts of having co-founded the Linus Pauling Institute with that distinguished Nobel laureate, but Pauling fired him from the position after a scandal, and an obscure institute that Robinson currently runs seems, from its website, to be more for promoting his fringe political and homeschooling ideas than collecting scientific data. 

This is not a man who represents mainstream Oregon residents or modern science.

Jason A. Kilgore, Junction City



TAMARACK FAN

I am a Eugene resident who has been swimming at the Tamarack Wellness Center and before that the Easter Seals Pool for more than 20 years — first as an employee for Oregon Supported Living Program where I brought dozens of my disabled clients to take part in the pools warm water therapy and exercise programs. Many of the area agencies that provide residential services to the disabled come to the pool on a regular basis.

For many of these disabled people Tamarack is the only pool in the area that offers warm water therapy (92 degrees) which is invaluable to people with disabilities many of which are confined to a wheel chair all day and the swimming provides not only exercise but therapies to increase their heart health, circulation, range of motion and even a social aspect where everyone at the pool from their staff and even other customers makes the disabled community feel welcome there.

 And now I swim for my own disability, after 30 years of working with disabled people I too am disabled by multiple sclerosis, which caused me to retire but I continue to swim at the pool as it is instrumental in my ability to keep my range of motion in my legs and to give me exercise in a warm pool. If Tamarack closes I won’t have anywhere to swim.

 Many doctors in Eugene and Springfield issue orders for their patients to swim or attend stretching classes at Tamarack to help patients recover from back surgery and other joint and muscle injuries. Water therapy is the best way to relieve pain from every injury possible. It also moves the joints and muscles in a non-jarring fashion. Swimming also helps people recovering from strokes and other neurological disorders. Critical need for range of motion on limbs that are affected keeps the muscles from atrophy. 

Please do what you can to make sure that the Tamarack Wellness Center stays a part of our community.

Diane DeVillers , Eugene



A DEEPER DIALOGUE

Thank you for printing Nadia Raza’s piece (“The Gains of Going Without,” 8/26). I was pleased to see my former instructor’s narrative in a space where I sometimes find Mark Harris, another former instructor/Eugene griot. 

Raza’s writing conveys her strong passion for sharing her knowledge and experience with others. Her statement, “It is evident that we need greater dialogue in America about Islam,” is an imperative truth. Thank you for providing a space for this dialogue to occur. 

Matt Fleming, Los Angeles





 

TYPICAL BOONDOGGLE

Has anyone noticed that EmX does not, nor is it planned to go anywhere that regular buses don't go? Has anyone figured that money already spent on EmX could have made buses free to everyone for at least five years, and dramatically increased the use of public transportation? Did you notice that in spite of all the destruction it causes in the planned West 11th route, it'll still use the regular traffic lanes? 

There are plenty of obvious why “nots” when examining this boondoggle. The only “whys” we hear are “the money's there from the feds” or “we got blocked on Coburg Road, so we have to do it somewhere.” But why, really? None of the reasons I've heard for EmX, since the beginning of the Franklin route years ago, makes any sense, except as a typical boondoggle, supporting the industries that construct it and the manufacturers of the fancy green busses.

LTD, as a corporation itself, has interests that are perhaps understandable; but why the City Council supports something with so many arguments against it, and no good ones for it, is puzzling. You'd think they would act in the best interests of the community, but that's seemingly not the case here.

This situation reminds me of the global warming deniers, or the folks who believe Obama's a socialist, or the Earth is flat: some people remain committed to crazy notions no matter how much truth stares them in the eyes. And we have to wonder why.

Jeff Harrison, Eugene



RETRED POLITICS

Think it’s dangerous driving while yakking on the phone? How about driving while looking in the rearview mirror? That’s how the Tea Partiers drive.

Wearing Revolutionary War costumes, channeling the founding fathers, waving the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, this retread of the Nixon-Agnew “moral majority” wants to live in any time but the present.

But ultraconservatives have never liked looking forward in history. They opposed the abolition of slavery, they opposed women voting, they opposed child labor laws, they opposed the 40-hour week, they opposed food safety laws, they opposed unions, they opposed Social Security, they opposed questioning of any U.S. war, they opposed the civil rights and women’s rights movements, they opposed environmental laws. Throughout U.S. history ultraconservatives looked in the rearview mirror, not through the windshield.

True to form, they now oppose helping the 50 million people who have no health insurance. They oppose limits on the Wall Street crooks and banksters who steal everything that’s not nailed down. They oppose having the filthy rich pay a fair share of taxes. They oppose any government programs that don’t benefit them directly. 

The Tea Party is not new stuff. It’s the same old Nixon-Agnew manipulative mix of reactionary longing for some distant past, cynical religiosity, not-so-subtle racist fear-mongering, never-ending support for all wars mixed with a right-wing populism that somehow always seems to benefit the wealthy.

The Tea Party Nixon-Agnew formula is not responsible driving. It is not the way forward. It results in lots of innocent crash victims.

Roscoe Caron, Eugene



POOR CHOICES

I cannot vote for John Kitzhaber. 

Back in 1997 then governor Kitzhaber signed HB 3643, the recriminalization of marijuana bill, which would have put me in jail.

I cannot vote for Chris Dudley. He even thinks people who need medical marijuana should be in jail.

So in this time of economic trouble the Democrats and Republicans have presented Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum as candidates. Where are the intelligent leaders of this state?

The state is in economic trouble; 150,000 Oregonians smoke marijuana; the marijuana is bought and sold tax-free and Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum can’t put two and two together.

In fact Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum want to spend more taxpayer money to build more prisons to incarcerate 150,000 more Oregonians. 

You see as professional politicians, Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum know attacking people who smoke marijuana is an easy political strategy because most people who smoke marijuana will not fight back. 

It’s like a heavy-weight boxer punching little children. It’s easy — not ethical.

Chris Pender, Eugene